Recently, I’ve started creating art (if you can call it that) to try to combat feelings of stress and anxiety. You hear a lot about the therapeutic impact of creativity, but I think many of us feel a little too overwhelmed to give it a go. After all, the art we consume on Pinterest and Instagram is often amazing, and that in itself can be daunting.
But we can try to take that flood of other people’s creativity and turn it a positive way: we can see it as inspiration. So I thought I’d talk about some of the things I’ve tried to get involved in creatively, that aren’t too hard to pick up and could be used as a good distraction for negative feelings.
This is one I’ve done on and off a lot from a very young age. I used to feel a sense of freedom with a pen or pencil in my hand – sketching imaginary creatures, copying online tutorials (anyone remember Dragoart?) and illustrating my own story books. But somewhere along the line, much like many other areas of life, self-consciousness set in and I started to feel worried that I would draw something ‘bad’, when this had never been a concern of mine before.
I would sit in front of a blank page, fidgeting with my pencil, and feel completely stuck. Like someone had stuffed something up the end of my creative tap and nothing was able to flow out. However, this is sad and frustrating and frankly a little ridiculous. No one even has to lay eyes on the things I draw so why am I getting myself so worked up over how ‘good’ things look? And so I am changing this. I am trying to allow myself to draw and push through the anxious bumps in the road to creative flow. And this, rather ironically, has become a great way for me to reduce the nauseating low-level buzz of daily anxiety.
Painting holds a similar story to drawing really, so I’ll spare you the details. But basically it’s another thing I want to reintroduce into my life because of how relaxing and beneficial it can be. At the moment, I am doing this through the medium of watercolour paints. Since picking this hobby up around May, I have learnt a lot about how colours blend and how they can be manipulated on the page to get the look you want.
I’m still sticking to painting simple things – fruit, flowers, lettering… Nothing too out there, but the point of it is that each small painting takes up a little chunk of time in which your mind has to focus on just that.
This one is definitely my favourite right now – the creative side of bullet journalling is basically an extension of drawing and painting, but for those who feel like they need added purpose within their creative activities. I go through moments in which I don’t feel capable of creating because it feels pointless. A ‘why would I want to fill up a book of sketches to never look at them again?’ kind of mentality.
This is a phase where bullet journalling really comes into its own and helps out. The main purpose of a bullet journal is to organise your life, to keep track of things and feel more organised. And so decorating the pages of such a useful notebook can feel a little more poignant for those who don’t feel like randomly drawing things with no context.
Knitting is a form of creativity I haven’t picked up in a while, I’d say around three years, but my mum started doing it again this month and so that has brought it back into my mind. It is easy enough to pick up, even when you’ve never held a pair of needles before, yet requires enough focus to act as a good distraction. It’s also great because you can vary the difficulty of the task hugely. The most basic thing to knit I think is a scarf, all in one simple style of stitching.
If you get on well with this, there are so many ways to expand a knitting project – jumpers, blankets and gifts for other people, for example. Knitting, like bullet journalling, is also great in the sense that you’re creating with a ‘purpose’, and so those of you who struggle to sit down and be creative in order to ‘just be arty’ will get on well with this.
To some extent, embroidery can also make it into this category. Do you have any old t-shirts lying around that need a bit of a revamp? This is the activity for you then! I think I first experimented with embroidery last year, and I started stitching flowers and fruit onto t-shirts that were looking a little lackluster. I haven’t done much for a while, but I definitely recommend giving it a go.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter if you pick one of these activities or something else entirely – the point being to just find something that grabs your interest enough to act as a distraction from everyday anxieties. The act of engaging your mind in a different way and using your hands as part of that process helps to steer your thoughts in a new direction, at least temporarily. And you get something creatively unique out of it at the end too, so what’s not to like 🙂
What creative hobbies do you take part in to reduce anxiety?
And if creativity isn’t your thing to reduce anxiety, why not give ASMR a go…
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